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It is not fat-shaming to state stark facts about obesity and cancer

3 38 0
03.07.2019

The largest organisation in Europe conducting research into cancer has thrust some new and valuable information under our noses, and crashed into a row about so-called “fat-shaming”.

Cancer Research UK’s latest ad campaign reminds us that obesity is a very significant risk factor for the development of the disease, and reveals that some cancers – including liver and ovarian, both of which still have very poor mortality rates – are actually more likely to be caused by obesity than by puffing away on a cigarette.

Interesting. And, on a whole population basis at least, very significant too. For while only 14 per cent of adults in Britain were smokers last year, 26 per cent of British adults are classed as obese, according to Public Health England and the Office for National Statistics.

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This is an important leap in our understanding of how and why cancer develops. Yet the charity’s efforts to communicate that information have left it tangled in the argument about how we discuss our bodies and our lifestyles.

The organisation launched an advertising campaign which depicts the word “obesity” on the front of a mocked-up cigarette packet, to highlight how carrying excess weight can be as risky as smoking in the potential development of cancerous cells. Yes, it is a bold image, but in a hyper-distracted world, how else to attract our attention?

It certainly did that, but the backlash that followed – particularly on social........

© Independent